Lettuce Begin…..

“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow”- Audrey Hepburn

Our garden at Farnash Creek Ranch (FCR) has started to produce and we have began harvesting several of our meals. We love this time of year when you can go out to the garden and pick your dinner. The spring garden is in full swing. We have a total of four garden patches this year so we can beef up our rotational gardening program. Garden #1 is planted in peas and beans primarily to replace the nitrogen depleted by last years crop. Garden #2 is coming along nicely but not producing, yet. Garden #3 is where the action is happening right now and the one I will highlight  today. Garden #4 is still in progress but I better hurry up and get my stuff in the ground because it is getting late.

First, I would like to give a little props to that fall spinach plant that produced for us all winter even through a few pretty good frosts. It was still growing when I was planting for the spring. For a new gardener wanting to try out a few plants – spinach is easy to grow and is very versatile. We eat it raw in salads and also cook it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It grows well in containers and keeps growing after it is picked. I would suggests when planting in pots to use good quality potting soil such as miracle grow potting mix. I bought the cheap stuff one year and it turned into rock soil in the pots. Secondly, speaking from experience, there is a big different between potting mix and garden mix but the bags look exactly the same. Make sure it is potting mix.

The spring garden has really took off well after much planning and cultivating. Garden #3 has lettuce, cabbage, kale, yellow squash, cucumbers, few interspersed onions, broccoli, and cauliflower. The garden is flagged by dill and marigolds in an attempt to ward off pests.  The first thing produced was a ton of lettuce. Literally, one ton! Ok, almost a ton. This year we really concentrated on companion planting and staggered planting to keep a steady harvest and minimize pests. The lettuce loves it. I have had zero damage (knock on wood) to my lettuce from pests. I planted marigolds at the ends of the rows which I think was very beneficial or maybe our pests haven’t found them yet. Shhhhhh……. We planted butter lettuce and romaine lettuce. The butter lettuce was from seeds started in the ground and it is loving our alkaline soil! I think it is the softest most palpable lettuce I have ever put in my mouth! The romaine lettuce I started in pots and it is growing but slowly- I think my pot selection may have been too small. Luckily, we will be eating butter lettuce until the cows come home. Well really longer than that since the cows are home actually. Note, if you have not invested in a salad spinner please do so. The little device allows me to keep lettuce up to 2 weeks.

lettuce

Lettuce move on to another lettuce like plant. The Kale! The Kale has been the beauty of the garden! It is so vibrant and colorful with burst of deep green and purples. We have a little Dinosaur Kale and a ton of Red Russian Kale. This plant is also very versatile, healthy and has multiple uses. We eat it raw or cooked. This week I experimented with Kale Chips! They were delicious. This is a good healthy snack for us late night snackers! Even my son liked them. Maybe he is turning over a new leaf (he he he) since he has a brand new baby boy. May I introduce, our newest grandbaby at FCR. Holden Harrison:

Holden

Now, back to Kale. This too is an easy plant for beginners. We planted in the ground this year from seeds and they have done really well. They grow fast and are low maintenance. I have also planted some in pots and they have done really well. Although, this year the plants in the ground seem to be doing better. I have had problems in the past with not having enough to last us throughout the season. However, this year I may have over planted. So, tell me if I can send you some Kale! Also, the salad spinner works well for this too or a lettuce keeper.

LET’S GET TURNIP! These turnip greens are out of control and I love it! I have thinned them twice and was able to have a huge harvest just from thinning. The leaves were young and tender which tasted amazing. The turnips were small and I haven’t decided yet if I will roast them separately (found a delicious recipe on pinterest) or add them in with the greens. I froze the turnip part for now until I can decide. Just a side note, the turnip leaves or greens will have prickly points on the leaves so I don’t eat them raw but once they are cooked they go away and you never even knew they were there. I could eat greens at every meal. My only problems is that you can’t eat greens without cornbread and I probably shouldn’t have so much cornbread in my life. One pan won’t hurt, right?

 

We also enjoyed a great cream of broccoli & cauliflower soup & modified shepherds pie from the garden harvest! Finally, I will close with this wonderful cocktail made with fresh mint from the garden. I call it a “Barbara Bush” in honor of the recent passing of FLOTUS # 41.

Barbara Bush

It is muddled lemon juice and mint with one part Blanton’s Bourbon and one part gingerale. I know I shouldn’t mix that Bourbon with anything but i was living on the edge!

-Chas

Love the Soil You’re In

In life, people and plants often get transplanted. It can be an opportunity for them to flourish to grow and to be even more magnificent. There will always be some obstacles to overcome. One of those is the soil in which we put down our roots and our little seedlings.

I grew up in deep East Texas and still have a family home there. I now spend most of my time in the Northern Hill Country. The soil types and experiences are polar opposite. They each afford different opportunities and barriers to growing.

The eastern part of Texas is known as the East Texas Timberlands, according to the Texas Almanac, with soil that is acidic deep sandy loams with scattered clay pockets. It is easy to grow there and make deep roots but the hidden clay pockets can make it hard for you to navigate times. It is often not what it seems. You start digging with your shovel and it seems easy to remove the dirt, but then you hit a hard red clay loam that is harder than a rock. You dig and you dig but it will not budge. If you put your plant there the heavy clay will suffocate the root and it will die. Navigating the clay in life is the hardest part; none the less, it is absolutely possible. So many wonderful things near and dear to my heart have grown from Eastern Texas soil. I specifically love and miss my all grown and tall pine trees.

Sometimes, I just have to peak through the Pine Curtain to see how things are growing along or withering away. So, I am grateful to still be able to split my time between East Texas and the Northern Hill County.

Most of my time now (67% to be exact) is spent at Farnash Creek Ranch in the Northern Hill Country of Texas. We are in a soil type call the Grand Prairies according the the Texas Almanac. We are just south of the Western Cross Timbers and just north of Edwards Plateau. The soil is alkaline with shallow dark-gray clumpy loams over rocky limestone which means it is difficult to cultivate. Growing has been much more difficult to get started. It is hard to penetrate and we often have to get inventive with growing strategies. A mere shovel will not do the trick for our seedlings.

shovel

We have to do much more preparation for the soil. But we are learning when we prepare and work our soil for the roots we want to plant, they will flourish. We remove the rocks or obstacles for growing and the soil becomes a soft fluffy bed of growing gold. The rains will come again and attempt to harden our ground but we will keep working it back to downy again and again. Nevertheless, I have no doubt once people get their roots to take hold they are there to stay. For me, this is unlike the Piney Woods where over time heavy downpours, cutting down or logging, and the compacted slippery clay minds cause things to wash away. And honestly, sometimes things need to wash away from our gardens- it is Mother Nature’s way of keeping balance.

I’m learning to love my Grand Prairie’s soil and grow in it each day! I am finding gratitude in all things these days because life is too short and precious to waste time complaining over bad dirt! Dirt let life’s ups and downs soil your whole garden!

– C

Roundin’ up the Herd 

We started this week by rounding up some of our calves and tagging them! Gramita was looking like a professional this week! (Her books and YouTube videos are paying off!) Guess I can’t call her a weekend rancher anymore! We had to step up our game this week. Popi has been out sick! (That’s why I’m posting late.) He is doing great now though and will be back to hisself soon! Until then it’s just Gramita and I running the ranch! Here are some pics from this week!

Pumpkin Takeover!

This week it seems like our pumpkins plants, that we grew from seed, are taking over the garden! They have tripled in size this week and are full of blooms! 

We had a small thrunderstom at the beginning of the week. I’m pretty sure that contributed to the size of our pumpkin plants, too! I love storms out here on the ranch! 

There was a photo shoot on Sunday for baby Seydi! She was diggin’ it! This sassy girl was made for the camera! 

Saw a few of our sweet calves today! They are growing fast! 

Well that’s about it for this week! Next might be more exciting! Hopefully we get a few more additions! I’ll keep everyone updated! Thanks for reading! Follow us on Instagram @Farnashcreekranch and subscribe to this blog!

Keep moving forward and be open to change!

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